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Skiers may find their piste closure cover useful as snow is scarce in the Alps

17 December 2014
  • Chamonix, Tignes, La Plagne and Les Arcs have a fraction of runs open
  • Study of 545  travel policies reveals wide variation in piste closure cover
  • 82% of policies provide some benefit for piste closure within winter sports cover
  • When covered, maximum claim limits range from £50 to £5000 per person per trip

Skiers and snowboarders heading to the Alps and Pyrenees in the next few weeks may find that their travel insurance policy offers some solace for the distinct lack of snow. Some French resorts are particularly bare, with early snowfall in November melted by the unseasonably warm temperatures since. Several areas have just a few centimetres of snow on higher slopes with many runs and lifts remaining closed for the opening weekend of the skiing season.

However, what some skiers may not realise is that the majority of travel insurance policies with Winter Sports cover also include some protection against piste closure.

The idea of piste closure protection is that if you can’t ski or snowboard around your resort you can claim up to set amount per day, subject to a maximum claim during your trip. The piste might be closed for a number of reasons including a lack of snow, risk of avalanche or high winds closing lifts and cable cars. The benefit can help to pay for the additional cost of travelling further afield to find better skiing conditions or you can use it towards the cost of other activities you might decide to do if you can’t ski where you’re staying. Some policies may be more prescriptive than others on what you can and can’t claim for so always check the terms and conditions.

The range of piste closure protection offered differs widely between policies. You can usually claim up to a set sum per person, per day subject to a maximum overall claim for the trip. At the budget end of the spectrum the cover offered may be just £10 per day to a maximum of £50 for the trip, but higher end policies can be more generous. For example, LV= offer winter sports cover with a £5000 maximum claim limit for piste closure. Generally speaking the cover provided by most policies ranges from around £20 to £50 per day with maximum benefits of around £200 to £500 per person per trip.

The amount you can claim will be listed in your policy schedule, less any excess which may apply.

Caroline Lloyd from Gocompare.com Travel Insurance commented, “Skiers and snowboarders heading to some parts of France and the Pyrenees may find that snow is a bit thin on the ground at the moment. Although some resorts are able to keep some pistes open with snow cannons when there isn’t enough natural snowfall, there are reports of many runs and lifts remaining closed.

“Although it’s bound to be disappointing when you’ve booked a skiing holiday and can’t ski, the piste closure protection offered by most winter sports travel insurance policies may provide you with some financial help to explore other options. You may be able to claim for travel expenses for getting to areas with better conditions, a sum of money to compensate for not using your ski pass or just to spend as you wish when you can’t get on the slopes. If you have the cover you should use it.

“However, if you tend to only arrange your travel insurance just before you go you may find you can’t claim if you arrive at your resort and find there’s no snow. An insurer may decline a claim if they can show that you could have been aware of the poor snow conditions before you took out the cover, not when you booked your holiday. That’s why holidaymakers should always arrange their travel insurance very soon after they’ve booked their trip. That way they have a much better chance of making a successful claim for expenses arising from unpredictable events occurring between booking their trip and travelling.”

-ends-

*Source: Defaqto Matrix of 545 single trip travel insurance policies - instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto (15 December 2014).